San Sebastián

San sebatian

 San Sebastian, Puerto Rico

San Sebastián is located in the central mountain range of Puerto Rico, and measures about 183.8 square kilometers (71 square miles). It is most widely nicknamed «San Sebastián del Pepino,» but the town is also called «the hammock town» and the townspeople are known as pepinianos and patrulleros (patrollers). The patron saint is Saint Sebastian, the Martyr. According to the 2000 census, there are 44,204 pepinianos living in Pueblo, Aibonito, Alto Sano, Bahomamey, Calabazas, Cibao, Cidral, Culebrinas, Eneas, Guacio, Guajataca, Guatemala, Hato Arriba, Hoya Mala, Juncal, Magos, Mirabales, Perchas Uno, Perchas Dos, Piedras Blancas, Pozas, Robles, Salto, and Sonador wards.

The economy of the municipality is based on coffee and produce, as well as the cattle and dairy industries. There is some manufacturing, including needlework. At present, there are 37 educational institutions in San Sebastián, as well as a primary health care center, a post office, telephone service, radio and television stations, and secondary roads.


San Sebastián is bordered on the north by Isabela and Quebradillas, on the east by Lares, on the south by Las Marías, and on the west by Moca and Añasco. The town lies in the geographical region of the humid northern hills. The mountainous topography includes elevations between 100 and 300 meters (330 to 985 feet) above sea level and since this is part of the karst zone, there are hillocks called pepinos, literally «cucumbers,» which are the origin of the name San Sebastián del Pepino. Salient geographical features include La Sierra, a ridge that runs from Aguadilla, and Mount Del Sombrero.

The Guacio, Culebrinas, Guajataca, Guatemala, Juncal, and Sonador rivers run through this municipality, although only the first three of these are of any considerable extension. The Guacio River, also known as the Grande de Añasco, flows along the southern part of the municipality, marking the border with the municipality of Las Marías. The Culebrinas River originates in Lares and on entering San Sebastián is fed by the Juncal and Grande rivers, and the Lajas, Collazo, and Moralón brooks. Having passed through the town center on its westward course, it is also fed by the Guatemala and Sonador rivers and flows into the municipality of Moca. Finally, the Guajataca River flows northward through this municipality, emptying into the Guajataca Reservoir, shared by San Sebastián with the municipality of Quebradillas.

The La Bruja and Negro caves are located close to the Juncal River. Another, cave, known variously as the Cueva de Collazo or Del Pozo, is traversed by a brook. Other notable geographical features of San Sebastián are the Collazo falls and the Culebrinas boulder.

Some historians sustain that the village of Pepino has existed since 1752, based on documents that mention such a village and place it in a valley near the Culebrinas and Guatemala rivers. The name can be given several interpretations, for example, since it is known as San Sebastián de las Vegas del Pepino. Some say that the name refers to the location in the Culebrinas and Guatemala river valleys and pepinos, literally cucumbers, refers to the karst hillocks or haystack formations in the region. In 1869, the Spanish government authorized changing the name to San Sebastián.

Early on, agriculture in El Pepino proved to be highly productive. Some historians have affirmed that the early European settlers first made use of the forest resources and eventually developed sugarcane, coffee, cotton, tobacco, rice, and produce plantations. Some also were engaged in cattle farming. The town was located on the route known as the Camino de Puerto Rico, which connected the two main political divisions or villas, called at that time San Germán and Puerto Rico, the mountainous center with the north coast, to market their products. This meant that in 1815 and with the impulse given by the decree known as the Cédula de Gracias, a wave of immigrants arrived with capital to energize the economy. Ten years later, there were 53 trapiches, wooden sugar mills, and four distilleries for processing sugar molasses. Coffee, cotton, and produce had doubled in production.

The result of this economic prosperity was that between 1820 and 1861 there were several separations from the municipality, including the creation of the jurisdictions of Añasco (1820), Lares (1828), and Las Marías (1861). In spite of these changes, in the mid-19th century the town had eight streets, about 100 dwellings, two primary schools and a population of over 10,000, distributed in Arenas, Cidral, Guajataca, Hato Arriba, El Pepino Pueblo, Perchas, and Sonador wards. By the late 19th century there were 23 wards, reflecting the growing population and development of the town.

San Sebastián was involved in the historical events of the Grito de Lares, a revolt against Spain that occurred in 1868. One of the most important revolutionary committees that participated in organizing the uprising was El Porvenir, whose members included residents of El Pepino such as Manuel Cebollero, Eusebio Ibarra, Cristóbal Castro, Cesáreo Martínez, Clodomiro April, and Francisco José Méndez.


The San Sebastián flag  is a rectangle bearing a diagonal wavy white band that separates the upper red part from the lower green part. The red color alludes to the patron saint, Saint Sebastian the Martyr and the events of September 24, 1868, where the town was the scene of bloody events resulting from the revolutionary movement that began in Lares. The green symbolizes the mountains of El Pepino and the wavy white band symbolizes the Culebrinas River.

Coat of Arms
The coat of arms  was approved on October 12, 1976. There are three arrows on a red field on the upper part and a chain of mountains on the lower part. The red color alludes to the patron saint, Saint Sebastian the Martyr and the official name of the town. It also commemorates the blood shed on the town square on September 24, 1868, when Venancio Román and the other patriots who had come from Lares were slain as they attempted to occupy the barracks at El Pepino. The arrows are a tribute to San Sebastian who, according to tradition, was slain by his persecutors, and constitute a testimony of faith. The arrows also appear on the old seal of the town and this symbolism is perpetuated in the new coat of arms. The mountains with their silvery pediments represent the characteristic karst haystacks known as mogotes or pepinos», the term used as part of the original name of the town. The coat of arms is crowned by a turreted castle, the herald symbol for towns, chartered towns, and cities. The shield at the center is surrounded by a coffee branch on one side and a sugarcane stalk on the other, symbolizing the principal agricultural products of the area. The coat of arms has an inscription bearing the original name of the town: San Sebastián de las Vegas del Pepino.

Honorable Javier Jiménez (PNP)

Places of interest

• Camp Guajataca
• City Hall
• Doña Visa residence
• Robles or Paraíso Perdido falls
• Luis Rodríguez Cabrero Cultural Center
• Mount Del Sombrero
• Sculpture of a heifer
• El Jibarito Plantation
• Lake Guajataca
• Saint Sebastian the Martyr Parish
• September 24 Promenade
• Marketplace
• Román Baldorioty de Castro Square
• Guajataca Reserve
• Central Plata ruins
• Collazo falls
• Benito Fred Theater

Illustrious citizens

Juan F. Acosta Arce – composer and musician.

Salvador Arana Soto – historian, physician, essayist, and short-story writer.

Margarita Castro Alberty – renowned soprano. Castro has sung at the Metropolitan Opera in New York.

ángel Mislán Huertas – virtuoso of the euphonium and notable composer.

Rafael Seguí Barrero– composer, poet, and reciter.

Sinforoso Vélez Arocho – the first Puerto Rican soldier to participate in the First World War.

Nilita Vientós Gastón – an attorney at the Department of Justice in San Juan. President of the Puerto Rico Atheneum (1946 – 1961). Director of the literary magazine Asomante and founder of the literary magazine Sin nombre. Advocate of the Spanish language.


• Three Kings Day Festival – January
• Children`s Festival – January
• Patron Saint`s Festival – January
• Heifer`s Festival – January (first Sunday during the patron saint`s festival)
• Hammock Festival – July
• Lighting of the Christmas tree – November
• Cultural evenings – third Thursday of the month
• Farmer`s Market – every Friday


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